dif·fi·cul·ty (dĭfĭ-kŭl′tē, -kəl-)
n. pl. dif·fi·cul·ties
1. The condition or quality of being difficult: the difficulty of a task.
2. Something not easily done, accomplished, comprehended, or solved: We face a difficulty that requires unconventional thinking.
3. often difficulties A troublesome or embarrassing state of affairs, especially of financial affairs: lost his job and found himself in difficulties.
4. A disagreement or dispute: a company trying to settle difficulties with labor.
[Middle English difficulte, from Old French dificulte, from Latin difficultās, from difficilis, difficult : dis-, dis- + facilis, easy; see dhē- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: difficulty, hardship, rigor, vicissitude
These nouns denote something that requires great effort to overcome: grappling with financial difficulties; the hardships endured by the settlers; undergoing the rigors of prison; withstood the vicissitudes of an army career.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.